Despite having won a state title just three years ago, Social Circle softball has some things to work out before they can compete for another state title.
“We have work to do,” new Social Circle head softball coach Bryan Eades said.
Eades has plenty of championship experience to help lead the Lady Redskins back to Columbus. As a head coach he has won two state titles, one in 2006 with North Oconee and the other in 2011 with Oconee County, while also winning titles as an assistant coach on Oconee County’s state title teams form 1996-98.
After retiring from Oconee County High School in 2020 and spending a season with Franklin County as an assistant, the opportunity for two-time state Coach of the Year, Eades, to become a head coach again was offered and he accepted.
“After retiring at the end of the 2020 school year, I still felt like I wanted to coach. Jason Oliver, the head softball coach at Franklin County and a very good friend of mine, asked if I wanted to assist him in the fall of 2020 and I agreed to do that. That was actually my first time coaching outside of the Oconee County school system, Eades said. “My plan was to do that again, but (Social Circle Principal) Tim Armstrong, who had been one of my assistants when we were at North Oconee, called and asked about my interest in coming to Social Circle. After meeting with him and (Athletic Director) Craig Hargrove; the opportunity to continue doing something I enjoy while being able to stay retired, the wonderful facilities, having another challenge, among other things, led me to deciding to become a head coach again.”
With the program having won a state title in the past five years, Eades isn’t worried about having to build a winning culture at Social Circle, but rather try to fine tune it.
“My feeling is that we have some talented players in this group. They are used to winning and being successful, so confidence shouldn’t be a problem,” Eades said. “I think the adjustment to a new coach will take some time, so it will evolve as the season progresses.”
Social Circle finished second in Region 8-A and was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs but graduated seven seniors in 2020. The biggest returning pieces for the Lady Redskins are senior shortstop Alexa Wycoff, junior outfielder Hallie Richardson and junior pitcher Macy Langley. All three were All-County selections last year. Additionaly, sophomores Avery Bedsole and Kaylynn Scaffe return after being All-County honorable mention selections in 2020.
However, Eades noted the lack of reps will be one of the main causes for concern they build toward the season but Eades thinks they are off to a good start from a talent standpoint.
“From the little I have been able to see, we are pretty solid in several areas,” said Eades. “We have five pitchers in the program that are sophomores or juniors and good potential at the catching and infield positions. We also have several players battling for outfield spots.
“I had more planned than we have been able to do. The weather hindered us quite a bit in June. We didn’t get anywhere near the practice time I hoped to have. We did get to play a couple of doubleheaders. Those allowed me to get a look at a lot our players in game-type situations. We aren’t nearly ready for the season though. We have had quite a few players miss for various reasons, so we haven’t really had any practices with all our players present.”
Overall talent is not a big concern for the Lady Redskins but adjusting to the new coaching staff will take time. Eades and his staff are not very familiar with the players or their abilities, however, so the need to learn on the go will be very important for the Lady Redskins.
“We need to improve our awareness and knowledge of situational defense, and baserunning is something we try to improve throughout the season,” said Eades.
Eades will be breaking in an entirely new staff in 2021, but there will be at least one familiar face in head baseball coach Kevin Dawkins who will serves as one of Eades’ assistants. In addition to Dawkins, Jaime Pledger, who played for Eades in the mid-1990s, will join the staff as well as former Social Circle standout Lexi Griffin who will serve as a community coach.